Returning from one of my trips is a bittersweet reentry into the world. On the one hand, I’m always eager to get back to my “nest,” back to familiar routines and comfort. On the other hand, the magic and serendipity of travel is over, at least for the moment, so that takes away some of the Technicolor from my life. Because of that, reentry into my life can sometimes be bumpy and stressful, no thanks to jet lag and becoming reaccustomed to my home routines. Over the past few years though, I’ve come up with a few practices that make it a little easier. Hope they help you.
1. Do Your Best to Get Back to Your Regular Sleep Routine
Arriving back from Poland, I’d slept 6 hours on the plane, so I wasn’t overly tired when I went to bed at my regular bedtime. Then I woke up, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, at 4 am. I lazed around a bit, then got up at 5 (still 2+ hours earlier than normal). The next evening, I was bushed by 6 pm, but I powered through until 9 and crashed.
It may take a few days to get back to your regular sleep routine, so be patient. If you wake up in the middle of the night, accept the fact. Get up and read a book or drink a glass of milk. Avoid relying on alcohol or coffee to fake out your body into getting there.
2. Give Yourself an Extra Day Off
I never schedule anything important the day after I return from any trip, especially an international one. This gives my body and mind time to reconnect with my home routine, and I’m not stressed out because I have work or a meeting to deal with. I do usually check work email to start to catch up there, but I let my clients know I won’t be around until the following day.
3. Keep Your Schedule Light the Rest of the Week
Beyond that first day back, I try to avoid planning anything, even fun dinners with friends, the rest of the week after a trip. Your body is tired! You’ve been gallavanting around another country, and your immune system may be weak. You risk getting sick at this point, so keep activity low-key.
4. Hit the Grocery Store, Not Fast Food
When you return to an empty fridge, it’s tempting to pick up a burger and fries just to feed your body. But remember that your body is in a delicate state after traveling, and it needs nutrients. I go to the store as soon as possible and load up on fruits and vegetables to get my system back on track. After all the indulgence you likely did in your travels, you’ll need healthy cuisine.
5. Get Back to Life
As soon as possible, I wash all my clothes from the trip, and slowly sort through the piles of souvenirs, toiletries, and papers from my suitcase. This helps me feel organized and not stressed that I have crap scattered all over the living room (as I currently do right now!).
Remember to treat your body and mind well when you travel. You need them to be happy and healthy, both during your trip and after!